Upavim is an acronym for Unidas Para Vivir Mejor (United for a Better Life). This group of women lives in a squatter community named La Esperanza (“Hope”) on the outskirts of Guatemala City. In 1989, UPAVIM was organized to offer much needed health and educational services within this community, where many families had fled from Guatemala’s civil war and overpopulation in the capital city. Since then, the organization has grown to include income generation programs, including handicraft training and production, a bakery, a soy product production, medical clinic, pharmacy, medical laboratory, growth monitoring program and tutoring program for families with limited choices.
UPAVIM Crafts (Artesanias) is the heart of UPAVIM. UPAVIM Crafts exports beautiful fair trade gifts and crafts around the world, and financially supports the Children’s Center and Alternative Learning Center. For member women artisans, craft work is fit into a daily routine of child care, housework and volunteering in other programs at the UPAVIM community center.
In addition to Artesanias, UPAVIM proudly runs its own bakery, soy factory and health clinic. UPAVIM also offers a variety of educational services to La Esperanza and surrounding communities, including a free public library, academic scholarships, a tutoring center, the Children’s Center (a Montessori early childhood program), the Alternative Learning Center (a full-day school for students in kindergarten through 6th grade), and an English program.
UPAVIM strives to provide opportunities for women to recognize their potential, both individually and as a group of women united by the desire to create a better life. We believe that when women acknowledge their own capabilities, and have the space and structure to develop their talents, they begin to empower themselves.